Carnegie Mellon University

Swartz Center Staff

Portrait of Dave Mawhinney

Dave Mawhinney

Executive Director, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship; Executive Director, Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship


Dave Mawhinney is executive director, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, and executive director, Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship. He serves as the managing director, Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund, and director, i6 Agile Innovation System, a collaboration between InnovationWorks and CMU. Dave is also associate teaching professor at the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business.

Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon, Dave was co-founder, chairman and CEO of mSpoke, an internet content and advertising recommendation engine, that was acquired in 2010 by LinkedIn, the world’s leading professional social networking site. In 2006, Morgan Stanley’s MSCI/Barra business unit acquired mSpoke’s first business line, a quantitative investment recommendation engine.

Before mSpoke, Dave was general partner of PNC Technology Investors. Earlier in his career, he co-founded three successful startup ventures, including Premier Health Exchange (acquired by Medibuy), Hawk Medical (acquired by McKesson), and Industry.Net (merged with AT&T Business Network to form Nets, Inc.). 

Dave is an active board member at MedSage Technologies (now NewCare Solutions LLC), EZ-FLO Injection Systems and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Alumni Association (ex-officio, past president). He is an Advisory board member to InnovationWork’s AlphaLab, Pittsburgh Equity Partners and Carnegie Mellon University’s Project Olympus. Dave also served as Executive-in-residence at the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, working with healthcare information technology startups.

Dave holds an MBA with Distinction from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in physics, Summa Cum Laude, from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dave was a 2017 recipient of the Tepper School Alumni Award. He lives with his wife Kristan and three sons in Fox Chapel, Pa.

photo of Lenore Blum

Lenore Blum

Faculty Director, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship; Founding Director Project Olympus; Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University

Email | Website

Lenore Blum (Ph.D., MIT) is Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon, founding director of Project Olympus and faculty director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. Project Olympus is a good example of her determination to make a real difference in the academic community and the world beyond. Olympus has two main aims: to bridge the gap between cutting-edge university research/innovation and economy-promoting commercialization for the benefit of our communities and creating a climate, culture and community to enable talent and ideas to grow in the region. 

Lenore is internationally recognized for her work in increasing the participation of girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. She was a founder of the Association for Women in Mathematics and the Expanding Your Horizons Network. At Carnegie Mellon she founded the Women@SCS program. In 2004 she received the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. In 2009 she received the Carnegie Science Catalyst Award recognizing her work with Project Olympus targeting high-tech talent to promote economic growth in the Pittsburgh region and for increasing the participation of women in computer science.

Lenore is a trustee of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, on the board of hackNY, on the advisory board of WorldQuantU, and faculty advisor to the CMU student organization, ScottyLabs.

Her research, founding a theory of computation and complexity over continuous domains, forms a theoretical basis for scientific computation. On the eve of Alan Turing’s 100th birthday in June 2012, she was plenary speaker at the Turing Centenary Celebration at the University of Cambridge, England.

photo of Jonathan Cagan

Jonathan Cagan

Faculty Director, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship; George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor, Mechanical Engineering; Interim Dean of the College of Engineering; Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, College of Engineering; Courtesy Appointment, School of Design


Professor Cagan's research focuses on design methods, theory and practice, including computational synthesis, cognitive-based design and interdisciplinary product development. His computational work on design conceptualization and product layout emphasizes computational representation, generation and exploratory search of the design space. His premise is that computational tools must support a design process modeled by lateral exploration, followed by a focused investigation of one or more good designs. Based on this premise, much of his work has concentrated on stochastic and agent-based search techniques and cognitive mechanisms, and various grammatical representations to model, generate and move within the design space. The result is a merging between design theory, artificial intelligence, cognition and operations research, giving a unique approach to addressing the conceptual design problem.

Professor Cagan's other area of focus is in user-centered design and integrated product development practice. He works closely with colleagues in industrial design and business in creating new methods for product design that emphasize product identification, strategy, emotion and user-driven realization. He also works closely with psychologists in the area of cognitive-based engineering design, seeking to understand and improve the ways that engineers create new innovations. His work has evolved from a synergistic relationship with industry, having worked with a variety of small and large companies including Navistar/International Truck, Apple, HP, Procter & Gamble, MSA, Respironics, Alcoa, General Motors, Whirlpool, RedZone Robotics, Bayer Material Science, DesignAdvance Systems and Lubrizol, among others. Professor Cagan has also served as an expert witness for intellectual property litigation.

photo of Kit NeedhamKit Needham

Entrepreneur-in-Residence & Associate Director, Project Olympus


Kit is entrepreneur-in-residence and associate director at Project Olympus, providing students with startup advice, business strategy planning and connections to industry experts, advisors and the business community. She is a member of BlueTree Allied Angels and serves on their Screening Committee. She is an advisory board member of Chatham University's Center for Women's Entrepreneurship and teaches in their MBA program. In addition, she provides consulting services to promote economic growth to Chambers of Commerce, individual entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations. Kit manages the Olympus Incubator Space on Henry Street, where student entrepreneurs spend considerable time on their new ventures.

photo of Rob MyerRobb Myer

Director, VentureBridge


Robb Myer, CMU alumnus, founder and former president of the highly successful startup NoWait, is expanding his entrepreneurial ties in Pittsburgh as an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR) with the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. Robb is a seasoned product and program management executive with years of experience in business to business, technology-focused companies. As EIR, Robb will help budding CMU entrepreneurs create successful commercial ventures.

photo of Craig MarkovitzCraig S. Markovitz



Craig S. Markovitz,is a co-founder of Blue Belt Technologies, Inc., a spinoff from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.  He served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer for over 7 years and, in this capacity, launched the company, raised capital, managed operations, and led a January 2011 merger with HealthpointCapital (private equity).  He then transitioned to Chief Operating Officer, helped to lead substantial growth of the company and was a key member of the deal team that led to an acquisition by Smith and Nephew, plc in January 2016 for $275,000,000.  He was the recipient of the 2016 Carnegie Science Center Entrepreneur and the 2016 Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association Outstanding Entrepreneur Awards.  Markovitz graduated with distinction from the MBA program at the Charles H. Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University in Chicago with a degree in Entrepreneurship, and graduated cum laude from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA, with a BA in Management. 

Will KaiglerWilliam Kaigler



Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon University faculty, Will is a serial entrepreneur, having started multiple technology companies including NewCare Solutions, a innovative sleep monitor that helps keep elderly residents living in assisted living and memory care safe by allowing the nurse to monitor their sleep and, by tracking key indicators, can predict changes in condition that lead to hosptalizations and medSage Technologies, a software company that developed the first patient management solution for the home healthcare industry.  medSage was sold to Philips Electronics in 2011.  Will actively invests in health-tech businesses and runs a commercial real estate investment concern.  As managing director of WJK Enterprises, Will has also developed a business coaching and peer group practice in cooperation with Vistage International.  Will is an advisory board member for Idelic Inc., a mentor for Alpha Lab and has served as an Executive-In-Residence at UPMC Enterprises working with UPMC to identify and develop new start up opportunities in healthcare.  Will lives in Wexford, PA with his wife Julie and has three children and two step children.  He holds an MBA with Distinction from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from West Virginia University.

Ravi ThomasRavi Thomas

Entrepreneur-in-Residence & Director, VentureBridge


Dr. Thomas is the EIR at VentureBridge in Silicon Valley. In addition, he teaches in the Masters programs in Software Management and Technology Ventures at CMU’s Silicon Valley campus. Most recently he was the CFO of two companies that were started by CMU Silicon Valley’s alums. EngageClick developed advertising technology solutions and was acquired by 24/7 in 2016. Yunteq developed cloud orchestration software for public and private clouds and was acquired by Coraid in 2012. Previously he was CFO of University Associates LLC (UA LLC). UA LLC formed by the Regents of the University of California and the FHDA Community Colleges holds the master lease on 77 acres of NASA Research Park at Moffett Field. Over the years he has held senior level executive positions at several startups. A co-founder, CFO and a board member of Jareva Technologies he was involved in all aspects of the company from its founding as a service business, to its repositioning as a software product company, to the revenue stage and its successful exit through an acquisition by Veritas. Prior to founding Jareva he was the CFO of PostX, a company in the secure messaging arena. As CFO he was involved in raising over $35 million for EngageClick, Yunteq, PostX and Jareva. VCs that have invested in PostX and Jareva include Mayfield, Hummer Winblad, and Labrador. Prior to joining his first startup Dr Thomas was an Assistant Professor at the Fox School of Business at Temple University where he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in microeconomics, economics of information, and public finance. He has also taught at Swarthmore College and was a Visiting Fellow at the International Monetary Fund. He received his undergraduate degree from the London School of Economics with First Class Honors and his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

photo of Allyson HinceAllyson Hince

Program Manager


Allyson is a Program Manager at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, managing many of Swartz's programs, such as the CONNECTS seminar series, Entrepreneurial Bootcamp and the McGinnis Venture Competition. She also manages communications and the Swartz Center's website. Allyson has been a member of the Carnegie Mellon University community since 2010. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon University, she has held various communication roles with EDMC and Junior Achievement. Allyson graduated from Duquesne University with a bachelor of arts in communication studies and a minor in interactive media.

photo of Sonya FordSonya Ford

Program Manager


Sonya is a Program Manager for the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. She manages social media communications, the Weekly Bulletin, Innovation Scholars and Swartz Fellows programs and the Center’s finances. Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon University, Sonya was the executive administrator at Urban Design Associates, an architecture/urban design firm in Pittsburgh, and has held many other roles in the banking and medical industries. Sonya earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Robert Morris University and earned her certified administrative professionals (CAP) certification in 2007. Sonya is also a member of the African American Alumni Association at Robert Morris University, and enjoys being a mentor and volunteer in her community.

Melanie Simko photoMelanie Simko

Program Manager, NSF I-Corps & Innovation Fellows


Melanie is program manager for the NSF I-Corps and Innovation Fellows programs at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship.
Prior to joining Carnegie Mellon University, Melanie was clinical research coordinator for the Seton Hill University Personal Empowerment Program in collaboration with the Integrative Cardiac Health Project at Walter Reed Medical Center. This study used an innovative personalized text-based app, wearable technology and data analytics to help college students set and meet individual nutrition and fitness goals. In previous roles, she worked in healthcare administration and nonprofit and governmental accounting. Melanie earned a B.S. in Accounting from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA and a B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. 

Erin O'Toole photoErin O'Toole

Program Manager, Project Olympus


Erin is the program manager for Project Olympus, the startup incubator program for Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to joining CMU, Erin worked as an in-patient hospital Pharmacy Technician Specialist for 11 years, specializing in Hematology/Oncology and Pediatrics. Additionally, she worked as a teaching assistant and Head Computer Science Tutor for California State University in San Marcos, CA. She started the Women in Sciences Club on campus to empower women to collaborate and learn together. In her spare time, she volunteers for animal care organizations and historical preservation societies. Erin earned a B.S. in Computer Science from California State University in San Marcos, CA.

Aleksandar Petkov HeadshotAleksandar Petkov

Program Manager


Aleksandar Petkov is the program manager for the VentureBridge program and the bi-annual LaunchCMU at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship. Additionally, he is the primary events, access, and space coordinator for the new Swartz Center space located in the Tepper Quad. Prior to joining the Swartz Center team he was the communications manager for Ansar of Pittsburgh, a non-profit grassroots organization that empowers immigrants with the tools needed to set new roots and become active society members in Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. Aleksandar graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Georgia Institute of Technology.